Confused by popular books and rave reviews

I am currently reading a psychological thriller that has been written by a popular author and has great reviews. Even though I am not yet half way through, I’m convinced I shall not  be giving it the same praise. My reason for this? The book has not been written in a style with immediacy.

Let me explain.

1) The dialogue is interspersed with an overwhelming number of flashbacks, which loses me along the way. (One flashback often leads straight into another)

2) The scenes are written in a summarising style, which leaves me with a sense the story is being told retrospectively.

3) The author does not ‘show’ but ‘tells’ in the majority of instances, leaving me unconvinced by their accounts.

4) The dialogue is often short and has few descriptions of body language or emotions. Without these, I find it difficult to get a sense of what is going on, nor does it generate sympathy for the protagonist.

5) The protagonist spends a lot of time telling how they feel about other characters, but there is nothing in there to show/tell how she feels and how the incident described at the start of the book has affected her.

6) The scenes have no fluidity, with no definite sense of where they are taking place. As a result, a lot of the time I feel I am listening to the story in an empty white room.

7) The paragraphs are long and muddled, with, at times, several hours passing within the same paragraph.

In essence, I consider it a badly written book. But evidently, it hasn’t affected sales. So what am I missing? Could the author be deliberately slowing the pace so protect the reader from the harsh reality? Could they be so patronising? It is quite baffling.

Surely, there should be some link between writing style and genre? I read a book like this one to be in the moment and feel things I would like otherwise feel. Don’t you read horrors to be scared? I know I do.

Sometimes, the reviews and popularity of books completely baffles me. I’m not going to say who the author is, or what the book is called, but it would be interesting to see if anyone can guess.


About Honor A Dawson

I live in a rural location with my husband, dogs, cats and chickens. I love reading and writing, watching and playing tennis, swimming, and wildlife and nature.

Posted on October 18, 2013, in writing/reading and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Being an avid reader of mystery, detective, and fantasy, I am also often baffled by what creates a best seller, or a popular author. Some of these wildly popular books are so poorly crafted. Rarely have I read a truly well-done best seller. Greatly discouraging for a struggling author like me, so caught up in getting everything exactly right.

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